Do I Really Need Estrogen?
I’m confused. I have read numerous books on the menopause and yours seems to be the only one that does not encourage estrogen use. In fact, your book seems to be located outside the box with regard to many traditional approaches to medicine. However, they all seem to make sense. Can traditional medicine, including hormone doctors, be so far off base when it comes to treating patients?
—R.B. in Santa Monica-
There are many urban legends in medicine. Once they become entrenched it is extremely hard to disentangle them. Examples of some of these include:
- Calcium and estrogen are beneficial for osteoporosis
- Lowering cholesterol can significantly prevent heart attacks and strokes
- Testosterone causes prostate cancer
- Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (it is not) and you can overdose on it (you cannot).
- There is no cure for fibromyalgia
- There is no cure for chronic interstitial cystitis
- Once you start on thyroid, you can never stop
- Thyroid hormones can cause osteoporosis
- ADHD requires medication to treat it.
Perhaps the most lethal urban legend started in the 1960’s. Robert Wilson, M.D., a NYC gynecologist published a book called “Feminine Forever”. He stated that when women enter the menopause they enter a “vapid cow-like state” and became very unpleasant companions for their husbands”. It was for the benefit of the husbands that he felt women should be treated, not for themselves. He received tremendous financial support from the makers of Premarin to promote their product – it became the largest selling drug in the world.
In spite of the fact that millions of women have developed multiple types of cancer from this drug, it took 43 years until the Women’s Health Initiative exposed the dark side of Premarin and PremPro. So now the push is on for bio-identical estrogen, encouraged by Suzanne Somers and her hormone experts and publicized on the Oprah Winfrey show. But is bio-identical estrogen actually safer than Premarin, et al?
The answer is yes – but it has to be done correctly. A woman’s own estrogen is the most bio-identical estrogen there is – and it can cause six different cancers. There are thousands of doctors and compounding pharmacists that are now prescribing bio-identical hormones with no clue as to how to do it safely.
In addition, women never stop making estrogen – so is it actually necessary to replace it? Hopefully, it will not take another 43 years to answer this question.
In the meantime, I would recommend the following:
Women in the menopause who are thin could be placed on Biest cream, 1.25mg. Fat cells are the primary source of estradiol after the menopause, so that Biest (80% estriol, 20% estradiol) may be of benefit in thin women.
Women with vaginal dryness would benefit from estriol – 2.5mg per day with a vagial applicator. The dryness should be gone in 10-14 days. Following this, once every 3-4 weeks should maintain the lack of dryness. This is the only estrogen that does not cause cancer.
Those interested in more information might read my book, “The Miracle of Bio-identical Hormones”.
“Hey Doc” is a weekly series of questions & answers pertaining to common medical issues. It was published in the Palm Springs area, as well as the Beverly Hills Courier, not too long ago. The answers are strictly my beliefs and are intended to inform the reader of possible alternative approaches. All questions regarding your health should be discussed with your own physician. ~Michael E. Platt M.D.